The Choose To Own (CTO) Homeownership Program provides qualified public housing and Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) families with the opportunity to own a home. The CTO process is similar to the conventional home buying process. Families can purchase a single family home, townhome, condominium or cooperative anywhere within the City of Chicago. CTO has helped more than 400 CHA families make the transition from renting to owning.
Most families utilize the voucher to pay a portion of their mortgage for up to 15 years – the same way families use a voucher to pay a portion of their rent. Other CTO families are able to take on the full portion of their mortgage, and don’t require any financial assistance from CHA. These families are able to transition directly into homeownership and out of subsidized housing.
CTO Program Services
In addition to financial assistance toward the mortgage payment, the program provides pre- and post-purchase homebuyer education, credit counseling and other services to help families navigate the home-buying process and increase their chances of success.
To qualify for CTO, a family’s head of household must meet the following requirements:
- Earn at least $14,500 annually from employment*
- Have a good credit history (credit score of 620 or higher)
- Maintain personal savings that can be used toward a down payment
Enrollment in CTO
Interested public housing residents or HCV participants should attend a CTO orientation session to find out more about the program and steps to achieving homeownership. Refer to the Orientation Calendar for upcoming sessions. Interested families can also find out more about the program by contacting the HCV Call Center at 312-935-2600.
*Seniors and persons with disabilities may be exempt from the minimum income requirement and may be eligible for an additional term of mortgage assistance.
Orientation Calendar for 2014
Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) is a HUD program that allows HCV and public housing residents to build financial assets as the household increases income from wages. Participation generally lasts five years, during which participants identify educational, professional and personal goals such as:
- educational advancement (e.g. GED or post-secondary)
- completion of specialized job training
- obtaining employment
- career advancement
- transitioning out of subsidized housing
The FSS program involves goal setting, mentoring and financial incentives to empower families in making positive life changes.
CHA’s FSS Program Services
As a part of CHA’s FSS program, participants work with an FSS Coordinator to develop a plan that outlines specific activities needed to achieve their economic self-sufficiency goals. Throughout the program, the FSS Coordinator monitors participants’ progress and helps them move toward self-sufficiency. CHA’s FSS services are coordinated through one primary contracted agency, Heartland Human Care Services.
As participants achieve employment goals and increase household income from wages, their rent increases. An amount equal to the monthly rent increase is set aside each month into an escrow savings account. When participants meet all of their goals and graduate from the program, they are eligible to receive a payout of the escrow accrued during their participation.
Enrollment in FSS
The waitlist for the FSS program is now open for public housing and HCV residents of CHA. For more information, please call the FSS hotline at (773) 935-2625.
The Mobility Counseling Program assists families in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program to move into Opportunity Areas within the City of Chicago. Opportunity Areas are neighborhoods identified by CHA that offer quality housing and positive economic characteristics*. Current HCV participants who do not currently live in Opportunity Areas, participants who are newly admitted to the program and families porting in from another Housing Authority are eligible to participate in the Mobility Counseling Program.
Mobility Counseling Program Services
A Mobility Counselor assists families in identifying housing and community needs and desires, as well as locating a unit in an Opportunity Area. Participating families work with the Mobility Counselor throughout the move process to assist with transition into new communities (e.g. locating community resources, enrolling children in schools). Participants can also take advantage of the following benefits:
- Workshops on home maintenance, financial management and tenant rights
- Community tours and unit search assistance
- A grant of up to $500 to be used toward a security deposit, the purchase of new furniture or training courses to obtain a driver’s license
Enrollment in Mobility Counseling
Interested families can find out more about the program by contacting Housing Choice Partners, CHA’s Mobility Counseling Program partner at 773.451.0203.
A CHA Opportunity Area is defined as a census tract with less than 20% of its individuals with income below the poverty level and a low concentration of subsidized housing. Some census tracts with low poverty, moderate subsidized housing, and improving community economic characteristics are also designated as Opportunity Areas. CHA uses this definition of Opportunity Areas for its Mobility Counseling Program and to grant monthly rental payments comparable to area rents for the HCV Program.
Start Your Search Here
If the property address is in an orange area on the map below, then it is located in a CHA Opportunity Area.